Rep. Nadler Moves to Kill Total Information Awareness Program

Jan 16, 2003 Issues: Civil Liberties

WASHINGTON - US Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), the ranking Democrat on the House Constitution Subcommittee, will introduce legislation imposing a moratorium on the implementation of the Administration’s Total Information Awareness (TIA) program, when the House reconvenes later this month. Sen. Russell Feingold has introduced similar legislation in the Senate.

“Throughout American history, times of war and strife have challenged our commitment to our constitutionally-protected civil rights and liberties,” said Rep. Nadler. “Sadly, the Bush Administration seems bent on taking this nation down the same road once again. Its insistence on implementing its TIA program represents perhaps the closest realization of an Orwellian ‘Big Brother’ government to date.”

TIA is a massive Defense Department controlled database that will contain every bit of electronic information possible about as many people as possible. This database will not be limited to terrorists, or even to those suspected of terrorism. Nor will it be limited to a collection of illegal activities by a particular person. Every single American is likely to have the most private details of his or her life collected in this database. Government agents with access to this database will have access to individuals’ medical records, credit card purchase history, history of Internet activity, and history of donation to charities and political causes, among other pieces of private information.

Smaller-scale databases have been abused on countless occasions by dishonest agents. For example, in Michigan, a similar database called the Law Enforcement Information Network (LEIN) has been used by police officers to blackmail innocent people, to wrestle custody of children away from their ex-spouses, and to stalk and harass women.

“The possibility of government officials using TIA to destroy an innocent person’s life is very real,” said Rep. Nadler. “The simple fact is that TIA represents an all out assault on our Fourth Amendment privacy rights. It is imperative that we stop the implementation of this assault on our rights. Senator Feingold’s and my legislation must be passed now.”

Rep. Nadler has served in Congress since 1992. He represents the 8th Congressional District, which includes parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn.